Hope is a word that has been tossed around quite a bit recently – perhaps I have just become more aware of its frequency … or it really is having a resurgence! Just yesterday I noted the title of a book of Lenten reflections asking “what are we hoping for?”

Hope is a powerful thing, one that I am often unaware of, yet confident of its presence. A friend of mine, who has been in a very difficult place in life, recently mentioned finally being hope-is-the-good-thingable to hope again. I had no idea. It’s true; when someone has “lost hope” they determine that they cannot go on. That was one of the most striking things for me when I first watched the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption.” The character played by Morgan Freeman was “an institutional man,” he had been incarcerated so long that he couldn’t imagine life on the outside or any possibility of his surviving it. Part of surviving life on the inside was to not hope – not look forward to the future, to better or even different times – “hope is a dangerous thing!” [You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hB3S9bIaco ] And yet, this movie is ultimately about this man, Red’s, journey to rediscovering hope – it ends with him listing all of the things he hopes for and hearing himself saying “I hope, I hope, I hope …”

We are encouraged, in our society, to state very clearly what we want – and this can be interpreted in many ways: what do we think we deserve, what we can earn, what our material goals are. Do we realize that these future desires speak of hope? Any yet, if someone were to ask me what I hope for, I would not be inclined to enumerate material things. The Christmas “hangover” has just about dissipated. Think of how we speak of our Christmas anticipation – what do I want for Christmas? What if the question were, what do I hope for at Christmas? What do I want? Maybe some new electronic gadget. What do I hope for? Peace on earth, safety of my brothers and sisters in places of war and violence, shelter for those without homes, heat for those with inadequate housing …

Hope is deeper than want. Hope is one of the “big three” – faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13), but not the most enduring. Why? Faith is belief in that which is not known – when we enter into the kingdom of God, all will be known so faith will not be necessary. Hope is desire for that which is not yet realized – as all will be known, so all will be realized, hope is fulfilled. Love is the only gift that endures in this life and the next. But 1 Cor. 13:7 tells us that love always hopes! Commentaries state that hope for another (not about myself) is a fruit of love.

Hope. Do I have hope? Do I remember what it is to hope? What do I hope for? I am hopeful in this Year of Mercy – that it will be full of graces for the Church, the world, and in my own life. What do I hope for?

I hope that you receive all of the graces that God has in store for you this year!

Sr. Kelly Connors, pm, teaches Canon Law for Saint Joseph’s College Online.

2 thoughts on “Hope

  1. Sister Kelly,
    Thank you for this beautiful post. It is the best New Year’s gift.
    Several years ago I experienced an inspiring retreat whose theme was “The Shawshank Redemption”…I’ve never forgotten it and your blog resonated with all of that and brought it all back…
    Emily Dickinson said that “Hope is a thing with feathers”. May your new year be full of feathers!!

  2. How do you get HOPE? Where does HOPE come from?

    The dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best.”
    We tend to consider HOPE as … I hope my 401K will do better this year… I hope to feel better soon… I went in for my tests last week and hope to get the tests back ok….I was sick a while ago and no matter how much I complained to my wife I knew that in a few days I would be feeling better. But there are those among us that have no hope of their health improving.
    These things are not hope they are wishful thinking! Hope has nothing to do with wishful thinking! Pope Benedict says that Anyone that does not know God ultimately has no hope! Think about it for a moment … as that is a really strong statement!
    Our Catechism defines HOPE…
    CCC 1817-1821 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
    The virtue of hope corresponds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man;
    See if this is you and me…HOPE…
    – it keeps us from discouragement;
    – it sustains us in times of abandonment;
    – it opens up our heart in expectation of eternal beatitude.
    – It is a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation:
    – It affords us joy even under trial:
    – It is the confidant expectation of divine blessing
    St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of hope, “…a future good, difficult but possible to attain…by means of the Divine assistance…on whose help it leans” (ST II-II, 17.1).
    To sum it all up HOPE is ….
    A theological virtue by which our lives are ordered toward heaven and the things of heaven as our ultimate good.
    Comes from an inrushing of Grace
    Hope is that virtue that pushes us beyond this world and its struggles and conflicts; it directs the gaze of our soul to a transcendent fulfillment. I’m not trying to push complex words on you but rather this word transcendental fits nicely with the limitless view our soul needs to have of Hope.
    The philosopher Kant said that transcendent refers to events, understandings beyond all conceivable limits of possible experience and knowledge.
    Isn’t that what for a Christian … isn’t what Hope offers? A Transcendental fulfillment – a fulfillment beyond all conceivable limits of possible experience! Heaven is the fulfillment of Hope!
    If you read history you will find that the Christians, believers, who did the most for this world were just those who thought most of the world to come. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot to convert the Roman Empire, the great saints of the Church, all left their mark on this world, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. IF our vision, our aim is toward Heaven …we get earth ‘thrown in’: focus on or aim at earth ….and you will get neither. It’s a paradox of HOPE!

    Pope Benedict’s says HOPE comes from KNOWING God, not knowing about God but KNOWING GOD. If I’m in a position of not having much hope, then the question that Pope Benedict is asking us, is, how well do we know God? IF we really know God, have a real relationship with GOD, then it becomes IMPOSSILBLE NOT to live our life in great HOPE!

    HOPE comes from knowing God!

    The person then that does not know God has no HOPE!
    Is the Christian life re-shaping your life? OR Is it merely a series of facts and data? HOPE IS life changing!
    Faith, Hope, and Love make up our existence now. But the greatest of these is Love. When we are finally with God, it is all Love, as Faith and Hope will be fulfilled. Hope can only exist in those of us who have not yet achieved the goal we seek. Hope is, always concerned with something in the future, a future event. The angels, and the souls in heaven, have no need of Hope, for they enjoy God’s eternal life as an ever-present reality.

    Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)

    Faith is based on trust in what God has done already. What has God done to instill in us trust? He GAVE US HIS SON! God did not have twelve Son’s, he has one SON and HE so loved this world, this creation we call earth, this place God looked on and said it is good…God sent his SON to allow us to give us FAITH to believe on HIM to be saved. Our Faith is anchored in the concrete acts that God has done for us through Jesus. Our Faith allows us to look back to what God has done for us in his Son. What God has done for us in His Son is amazing! It gives us every reason to trust in God.
    Our Faith is based on what God has done. Our trust is in a GOD that had done for us what no one could do. We do have a future!
    God shows us the way beyond death: only someone able to do this is a true teacher of life.
    …Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, because you are with me … (Ps 23:1,4)
    The TRUE shepherd is:
    one who knows the path that goes through the valley of death
    one who walks with me even on the path of final solitude
    one who even in death accompanies me so that I feel no evil
    this is the Faith that fills the life’s of believers.
    Our GOD’s love is stronger than death;
    WE have a friend that can’t die!
    They tried but failed! As a result NOTHING can take away our HOPE! Our HOPE is not here, it is in what lies ahead!

    The Kingdom of God is a gift and because of this it is the response of our hope. We cannot merit Heaven through our works. Heaven is always more than we could merit.
    Just as being loved is not something we can merit but it is a gift!
    Can you make your wife or husband love you? Your actions may help, doing the dishes, helping clean the house, remembering flowers on the right days and even those days that are just moments of caring. All these actions help BUT they can’t MAKE your spouse love you!
    The love we are given by God is the gift we can never merit. This gift of everlasting life is just that, a gift from a God of love.
    No ear has heard, no eye has seen … it has not even dawned on me what everlasting life will be like! What that transcendental realm will be like! I have a very vivid imagine and I can imagine a lot of things.
    Do not be worried by people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous! They poke fun at Christians spending eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand a book written for grown-ups, they should not talk about it.
    All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible.
    I submit that ….
    Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity.
    Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy.
    Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it.
    People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.
    BUT even among Christians there is a fear of Eternal Life. Pope Benedict understands this feeling is in us. Faith is the substance of Hope. But then the question arises: do we really want this – to live eternally?
    Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of living eternally as appealing.
    If you think that the God of creation, the God who created all you see, feel, and smell around you, would prepare a place inferior to this creation then you need to rethink your trust and faith in God! Instead I want to pass on to you another kind of image that Pope Benedict uses to describe eternal life. Consider this image, plunging into an ocean of infinite joy! Now that is an image of Love!

    Romans 8:24,25 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance

    Hope draws the future into the present so that it is no longer, a not yet! The fact that the future exists, changes the present, the present is touched by the future reality and thus the things of the future … eternal life.
    You will NEVER make sense out of your life, till you make sense out of your death!

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